Growing up, a lot of us learned unhealthy eating habits. From schools that only allowed time for one meal in the middle of the day to threats of no dessert if we didn't clean our plates, many of the habits we learned as children are making it harder for us to eat right and be healthy as adults.
One thing nearly all my clients have in common when they first come to see me is that they're eating way more than they should be. Even when eating healthy food, to lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume.
Luckily, there are tricks you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you cut portion sizes and become more aware of the food you eat throughout the day. Here are my top four:
- Use smaller plates. In general, most of us are terrible when it comes to portion control. When we eat out at restaurants or attend big family events or parties, we're presented with an enormous buffet that's completely covered in chips, meats, pasta, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and all manner of desserts. If you arrive back at your table holding a full-sized dinner plate that is completely full (and you aren't an Olympic athlete on a 12,000-calorie diet), you're eating way too much. For everyday meals, consider eating healthy entrees off of (smaller) salad plates.
- Chew. Taking the time to chew, savor, and enjoy your meal is actually a great trick to ensure that you eat less. Your body needs time to register when it's full, and scarfing down your meal doesn't provide it with that opportunity. If you eat too quickly, you'll still feel hungry, and you'll only eat more. Eating healthy foods slowly may be all that's necessary to turn the meal that previously left you wanting more into just what you need.
- Drink water. We've mentioned this before, but your body is terrible at differentiating between thirst and hunger. The next time you get the munchies, drink a glass of water before opening the fridge and see if that satisfies you. Do the same thing before meals, since drinking water before a meal has been shown to diminish portion sizes.
- Eat regularly. This may seem counterintuitive to someone trying to eat less, but it's also absolutely essential. Your body needs energy all day, not just in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Little snacks midmorning and midafternoon keep your engine running throughout the day, so it's important to plan for them. If you don't, that candy dish in reception is going to look mighty fine by the time 3PM rolls around. Remember, eating healthy means eating regularly. Throw a small bag of almonds into your purse, or keep fruits and veggies stocked in your office kitchen.